CONCORD, N.C. -- After a hard-fought battle, Chase Elliott won his first race of the season.
The driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE dominated the second half of the third stage during Thursday's race at Charlotte Motor Speedway to take home Hendrick Motorsports' second victory of the season.
The win was extra sweet after Elliott's close call to crossing the finish line first during the Charlotte 600 on this past Sunday.
"Any win in the Cup Series is really hard to get and I really appreciate everybody at Hendrick Motorsports across the street, Chevrolet and everybody (who has) been working really hard," Elliott said after the race. "Kelley Blue Book, NAPA, Hooters, Mountain Dew, all our partners ... made this happen. I appreciate my team. (Crew chief) Alan (Gustafson) made a great call there at the end to get it tuned up and, luckily, the run went long and I think that fell in our favor."
The event had been postponed from Wednesday due to rain and another rain delay threatened to hamper the 310-mile event Thursday night. The track eventually was dried and Elliott's surge to the top in the last 28 laps sealed his win at the 1.5-mile oval.
Jimmie Johnson finished 11th in the race and William Byron placed 12th. Alex Bowman rounded out the Hendrick Motorsports team in 31st.
Below is a closer look at how Thursday's race at Charlotte unfolded for the four Hendrick Motorsports teammates.
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 KELLEY BLUE BOOK CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Elliott rolled off the grid in 19th and was in 18th when the competition caution came out. He restarted in 23rd after coming off pit road.
- Elliott moved up to 16th when the third caution came out. When the field finally went green after the rain caution, he was in 13th. Elliott broke into the top 10 at ninth by lap 44 and maintained that position until the first stage ended.
- Elliott was seventh 13 laps into the second stage. When the fifth caution was issued he was in 18th after he took four tires at pit road.
- He was in the top 10 by lap 27 and settled in eighth 28 laps into the second stage. A few laps later he was in fifth. With 23 to go, he was in fourth. Elliott finished Stage 2 in the same position.
- The No. 9 driver moved up to third with 82 to go but pitted when the first Stage 3 caution came out. He was in 17th heading off pit road.
- Elliott had worked his way back up to fifth with 60 laps left and moved up to second nine laps later.
- With 28 laps to go, Elliott took over the top position and maintained it until the very end, earning his first victory of the season.
WILLIAM BYRON, NO. 24 AXALTA CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Byron started in the pole position for Thursday’s race but dropped to second within the first lap. When the green flag dropped again after the first caution, he was battling for first and prevailed by lap 12.
- Byron was in 14th after he came off pit road to get two tires after the competition caution. He had to pit again when the rain caution ended due to damage on his door from hitting another car coming off pit road before the rain caution.
- He was 31st by lap 36. With 10 laps left in the first stage, Byron moved up to 23rd and was 22nd at the end of the stage.
- Byron had a pit road issue and was in 24th by the 12th lap but moved all the way up to 11th after he opted to stay out during the fifth caution.
- Byron got shuffled back to 23rd halfway through the second stage. He crossed the finish line in 26th for Stage 2. Byron rallied and was in 11th with 70 laps left in the race.
- He moved up to fourth since he opted not to pit halfway through Stage 3. With 25 laps left, Byron was riding strong in 10th place. He settled in to 12th with 20 laps to go and eventually finished in that position.
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 ALLY CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Johnson started in 40th and moved up nine spots when the first caution came out on the first lap. By lap 19 pushed all the way up to 23rd when the competition caution was called.
- He was in 16th when the green flag dropped and was in 19th when the third caution came out. Johnson was in 25th by lap 37 after he tapped another car and had minor damage.
- He was in the top 20 at 19th with 12 laps left in Stage 1 and was 17th when the stage ended. Johnson headed to pit road during the fifth caution and was in 16th when he came out.
- Once the green flag was waved, Johnson moved up to 15th. He was in 13th by the time the second stage ended. Johnson was in 15th 27 laps into Stage 3.
- After opting to pit, he was in 17th with 52 laps left and was in 13th with 20 laps left in the race. Johnson moved up two spots to 11th, which is how he finished the race.
ALEX BOWMAN, NO. 88 CHEVYGOODS.COM/NOCO CHEVROLET CAMARO ZL1 1LE
HOW IT HAPPENED:
- Bowman was in the outside pole position and dropped to third by the time the first caution came out on the first lap.
- He was back in second by the 12th lap when the competition caution came out. Bowman opted to take two tires and came out in 12th. The very next lap he was in fifth.
- When the rain caution lifted he was still riding in fifth on lap 37. With eight laps to go, Bowman rode out that position until the end of Stage 1.
- He was fourth in the start of Stage 2 and jumped up to second by the time the fifth caution came out. Several drivers decided to go to pit road during the caution, which pushed Bowman up to first. He finished Stage 2 at the top of the pack to earn Hendrick Motorsports’ eighth stage win of the season.
- Bowman fell to second with 82 laps to go. He had some contact with the outside wall, which caused him to have to pit early.
- Bowman was down two laps with 69 to go in the race. Despite trying to race back up the ranks, Bowman finished up the race in 31st.